Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors
Time: 4 PM CT (ABC)
Spread: GSW -6.5
Betting odds c/o 5dimes
This is the matchup people want to see on Christmas day: The rematch of the 2015 NBA Finals, Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors. As well as Cleveland has started off the 2015-16 season, the Golden State Warriors are the team to beat in the NBA again with a 27-1 mark to start the season. Stephen Curry and the Warriors are 6.5 point favorites in the game which will air at 4 PM Central on ABC.
The Warriors have won three straight since falling to the Milwaukee Bucks. The Loss to Milwaukee came on the second half of a back-to-back which ended a seven game road trip for the Warriors. There are “schedule losses,” and that was one.
Golden State has hardly let it rattle their confidence, and since that point the Cavs have beat their last three opponents by an average of 14 points per game including a 121-112 win against the Bucks at Oracle. The Warriors are the league’s toughest team on its homecourt, with a raucous atmosphere that is sure to be alive on Christmas day.
Stephen Curry still leads the NBA in scoring at 31.2 points per game, and the flame throwing point guard is shooting 51 percent from the floor and 45 percent from three. This season, Curry is attempting over half his field goals behind the arc, and he is hitting 4.8 threes per game. He is on pace to destroy his own single season record, and many are wondering at this point, “How much better can it get for Curry?”
Even with 2-guard Klay Thompson having struggled some this season, the Warriors backcourt still produces 50.5 points per game with 19.3 coming from Thompson. He is shooting 46 percent from the floor and 44 percent from three, and is one of a slew of Warriors having career years.
Joining him in that category is Draymond Green of Michigan State fame and former UNC Tar Heel Harrison Barnes. Green is a jack of all trades at the 4-spot, with averages of 14.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.1 assists per game. He is also a Defensive Player of the Year candidate, with average son 1.29 steals and 1.46 blocks per game. Green is the perfect player for Golden State’s small ball attack, as a guy capable of stretching the court and hitting the triple.
Green is shooting 38 percent from behind the arc on 3.7 attempts per night. Barnes has played well in his own right, shooting an efficient 50 percent from the floor and 39 percent from three. The Warriors have so much depth that many of these complementary players could be stars in their own right on lesser teams. But the goal in Golden State remains repeating as champs, with the sights also set on defeating the Bulls 72-win season from 1996.
The Cavs hardly come in struggling though. Cleveland is 19-7 on the season and has won its last six games with victories over the Portland Trail Blazers, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Oklahoma City Thunder, Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks. Only one of those clubs (Boston) was a 2015 playoff team, but the Magic, Thunder and Knicks all could be there this season.
The Cavaliers last knocked off New York 91-84 as LeBron James scored 24 points. Forward Kevin Love also shot 8 of 17 with a pair of threes for 23 points.
Love has begun to produce as the Cavs hoped he would when Cleveland let go of the talented Andrew Wiggins to obtain him. Love is averaging 17.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game while shooting 37 percent from three-point range. Over his past five games, Love has averaged 14.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists per game while hitting 39.1 percent of his threes.
The Cavs have also got production from the thought-over-the-hill Mo Williams. Williams spent some of his best seasons in Cleveland and thrives playing with LBJ. He is averaging 12.5 points and 3.9 assists per game for the Cavs, who have hardly missed All-Star Kyrie Irving. Between Williams and cult hero Matthew Dellavedova, the Cavaliers have enough toughness, defense and scoring at the point spot to still be a top team.
Even with Love and Irving both out during the 2015 playoffs, LBJ was able to carry the Cavs by himself. With the way the team is thriving, Irving may end up being a blue chip in the trade market if the Cavs want to bolster its depth around James while trusting in Dellavadova and Williams.
While the Cavs certainly have its work cut out for it to knock of Curry and the Warriors, if there is any team that can do it, it is Cleveland. Milwaukee snuck an odd victory out, but the Cavs have a national audience on Christmas day to extract revenge on the 2015 Champs. Expect this game to be a good and close one, even if NBA oddsmakers set the line nearly double-digits in favor of Curry’s crew.